The Michigan Dune Alliance: Restoring Eastern Lake Michigan Coastal Ecosystems

The Michigan Dune Alliance: Restoring Eastern Lake Michigan Coastal Ecosystems (BEG)
Shaun Howard, The Nature Conservancy

The Great Lakes contain the world's largest freshwater dune system, totaling 275,000 acres of perched, parabolic and linear dunes with the majority of these ecosystems located throughout eastern Lake Michigan. This region is also a crucial component of Michigan's growing eco-tourism economy, providing innumerable recreation and quality of life benefits. Unfortunately, eastern Lake Michigan also faces the ongoing threat of habitat degradation, with one of the largest factors being the introduction and proliferation of terrestrial invasive plant species. Since 2007 the Michigan Dune Alliance has implemented landscape-scale invasive plant control across over 500 miles of eastern Lake Michigan shoreline. These management efforts encompass three control strategies: suppression, control and eradication implemented over 36,000 acres of public, private and conserved coastal land in eastern Lake Michigan. Future efforts include creating a healthy set of "semicontiguous" natural areas, incorporating Lake Michigan island management and exporting lessons learned to other Great Lakes coastlines.

Shaun Howard, The Nature Conservancy
A Michigan native, Shaun earned his BS in zoology through the Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University. In the summer of 2010 he joined The Nature Conservancy to lead their Dune Restoration Teams's invasive plant control efforts along the shores of northwest lower Michigan. His current role is that of eastern Lake Michigan project manager, aligning the invasive plant removal efforts of The Nature Conservancy and other Michigan Dune Alliance partners along all 500 miles of eastern Lake Michigan shoreline.